May 17th, 2013
While there's little doubt that cloud computing services can benefit companies on many levels, sometimes seeing tangible benefits from the technology is easier said than done. If companies don't go all out to ensure that their cloud initiatives are successful, they might find themselves with more headaches than they expected.
According to a new Dynamic Markets study reported by Forbes, 54 percent of IT officials experience downtime within six months of trying to integrate new cloud solutions, and 52 percent miss business deadlines because of their trouble dealing with disparate cloud apps. While the cloud can be a huge asset for companies, it's clear that some initial stumbling blocks must be overcome.
Here are a few tips on ensuring that your cloud solutions are implemented seamlessly and you can fully enjoy the technology's benefits.
The cloud can be a tremendous boon to your company, regardless of its size or influence. It's up to you to make the most of it.
May 17th, 2013
Companies in nearly every sector can reap the benefits of employing cloud technologies. By incorporating ERP business solutions into their operations, managers can make their IT operations more reliable, cost-effective and above all, speedy.
Speed can help any organization, public or private, but perhaps nowhere is it more profitable than in Hollywood, where the movie business thrives on its ability to capitalize on market trends. Whenever a new film genre hits it big, studios race to milk the cash cow for all it's worth, and time is of the essence.
Robert Jenkins, chief executive officer for cloud solutions firm CloudSigma, recently wrote a guest article for ReadWrite.com analyzing how the cloud could help Hollywood. He cited the "Hunger Games" movies as an example – the first one arrived in theaters in March 2012 and grossed $155 million in its opening weekend, but the series lost momentum during the long layoff between films one and two.
Lionsgate is forced to endure a 20-month wait before producing the second movie, and during that time, new blockbuster films threaten to take over viewers' hearts – and their wallets. There's no guarantee that the second film will achieve the same commercial success as the first.
The cloud, with its ability to streamline operations and contain data overflows, might be the solution for Lionsgate and other studios like it.
"Typically, a film's production environments and the participating service partners are distributed around the globe," Jenkins explained. "For these groups to collaborate, data, film reels, etc., are physically flown around the world as needed. As you can imagine, this is cumbersome, inefficient and costly, and may be one reason movie fans have to wait so long for the next installment of their favorite flicks."
When producing a big-budget Hollywood film, capacity is a major issue. A major movie is composed of countless smaller elements, and coordinating them all is a massive undertaking. But as Forbes explains, the cloud alleviates concerns about running out of storage space or server capacity, offering nearly unlimited space for companies to contain their data. The cloud also makes data storage far less expensive and less of a logistical hassle, making for fewer headaches for busy producers.
The cloud has many tangible effects on the business world, but it can also have a positive impact on entertainment. America demands only the latest and greatest trends at the cinema, and technology can help make that happen.
May 16th, 2013
In a previous generation, the business world moved at a slower pace. Computers were virtually nonexistent, no one had heard of the "internet" and simply having a reliable mail carrier was a blessing. It was a simpler time.
Today's workplace, however, is undergoing rapid change. Employees in every sector are becoming more tech-savvy and therefore, ultimately more productive. Business technology is constantly changing, and it's difficult to get a good grip on the state of the tech world today. But in this decade, there are a few trends rising above the rest as the key driving factors behind the evolution of the office.
Here are three overarching storylines to watch.
Technology has made businesses more efficient, flexible and ultimately profitable. These are three trends in the present, but there's no telling what the future may bring.
May 16th, 2013
While there's no doubt that employing cloud computing services in the workplace can work wonders for making IT infrastructures more powerful and cost-effective, many firms often struggle with a very basic question – where to start. The cloud can definitely improve operations, but for those who have trouble integrating it at first, the repercussions can be seriously damaging.
Forbes recently published the results of a study, conducted by Dynamic Markets and funded by Oracle, that polled 1,355 business managers worldwide on the difficulties they had with introducing the cloud in their offices. Of the managers polled, 54 percent said they'd experienced downtime in the past six months due to trouble integrating cloud apps, and 52 percent said they'd missed business deadlines because of these delays. Furthermore, 75 percent of respondents said that cloud delays were stunting technological innovation at their companies, and 64 percent bemoaned difficulties integrating cloud solutions with other enterprise applications.
Rex Wang, Oracle's vice president of product marketing, noted that cloud systems only work optimally when they're fully integrated across multiple departments within a company.
"Cloud applications have the power to dramatically improve business performance while reducing costs, but only if they can work across the business," Wang told Forbes. "For example, sales managers need to have their territory planning and quota management tools integrated with the human resource and compensation applications in order to better drive behavior and achieve sales goals."
In order to be fully prepared for cloud computing, companies must first ask themselves a few questions.
Who will build and maintain the solutions?
How complex is the project?
How big is the company?
Venturing into the cloud is a big step, and it shouldn't be taken lightly. If you ask the right questions before getting started, you'll be ready to proceed wisely.
May 15th, 2013
While the numbers on Windows 8 migration haven't been stellar for the first six months of Microsoft's new operating system, there's reason for optimism going forward. Because the OS has an interface that emphasizes interactive tiles and touch controls, it should be well suited to a marketplace that's been rapidly moving away from personal computers and drifting toward smartphones and tablets.
The Associated Press recently reported that according to statistics reported by leading research firm International Data Corporation, worldwide PC sales saw a 14 percent decline during the first three months of 2013, the biggest year-over-year drop in the market's history. This trend is backed up by stock prices across the board – Apple, which manufactures the iPhone and iPad, is soaring, as is Samsung, which sells most of the devices running Google's Android OS. Meanwhile, leading PC makers like Hewlett-Packard and Dell are in a financial funk, questioning whether their current business models can survive.
Windows 8 makes the perfect operating system for computer users who are caught in the middle of this OS transition, as it offers the best of both worlds. For those who are gravitating toward mobile devices, the OS is touchscreen-friendly, making it a good fit, but at the same time, Windows 8 still works well in traditional PCs as well, albeit with some changes from previous models such as the lack of a "Start" button.
A slow upward trend
"Are there things that we can do to improve the experience? Absolutely," Reller said. "There is a learning curve [to Windows 8], and we can work to address that."
Windows 8 still controls only 3.82 percent of the OS market to date, ranking it a distant fourth in the power rankings according to ZDNet, trailing Windows 7, XP and Vista. But considering the software's versatility in a market that needs it, we may soon see a further rise in its popularity.
May 14th, 2013
Global IT firm brings diverse portfolio suite to prominent marketplace
The Pacific Northwest has established itself as a dominant hub for information technology, and will allow DISYS to foster new relationships and expand its client base in the region.
DISYS’ CEO, Mahfuz Ahmed, states, “The region shows a lot of potential and has already emerged as an essential component to our growth strategy. We already have several large clients in the Seattle market, which will serve as a great foundation for our success.”
Steve Matas, DISYS’ Executive Director, West Region, is eager to build upon the reputable DISYS brand in the Seattle market. “This is an exciting expansion for my region and DISYS as a whole,” Matas explains. “We have the right people in place and have the capabilities to establish a great practice in this market.”
Patrick Yaguchi, DISYS’ Managing Director for the Seattle office, has over 18 years of leadership experience in business development, 13 of which were served in staffing and consulting industries. As a Seattle native with family ties to the area, Patrick has strong investment in the community. He looks to leverage his immense knowledge of the market with DISYS’ diverse client base.
DISYS’s Seattle office offers core services in IT Staffing and Consulting, ERP Services, Infrastructure Support Services, and Cloud Deployment and Management.
About Digital Intelligence Systems, LLC (DISYS)
DISYS is an ISO 9001:2008 certified IT staffing and consulting company that offers IT solutions in Staff Augmentation, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Infrastructure Support Services (ISS), Application Development, Testing and Quality Assurance, and Cloud Enablement. DISYS solutions are governed by strict performance standards, and are backed by the DISYS Expert Network (DEN) of consultants and an industry-leading R&D arm–DISYS Labs.
DISYS currently ranks as the second-fastest growing company in the staffing industry among companies with revenues exceeding $100 million. DISYS is headquartered in McLean, Virginia, with offices and delivery locations worldwide. To learn more about DISYS, visit www.disys.com.
May 14th, 2013
There's no doubt that cloud computing services have numerous benefits to offer to large corporations, as technological innovations like ERP business solutions have worked wonders for streamlining business processes and adding real dollars to companies' bottom lines. But one sector has largely lagged behind in the cloud movement so far – retail.
According to Wired, the retail industry only devotes about 1.7 percent of its revenues to IT spending. That figure pales in comparison to other segments of the economy – financial institutions, for example, spend closer to 6 percent.
Because cloud services have a known reputation for saving firms money, they may soon gain significant traction with merchants. Retailers have recently become much more serious about competitive pricing in this era of "showrooming" – anyone with a mobile device can enter a store and survey its goods, but after doing a little research, customers might leave and shop elsewhere if they can find better deals.
Because value is so important to customers, vendors are looking to save money anywhere possible, and the cloud might be the answer, Wired explains. Vish Ganapathy, director and chief technologist for IBM's global retail business, recently wrote a guest article in which he explained the importance of this movement.
"As mobile, social and e-commerce continue to explode in popularity, traditional brick-and-mortar retailers must understand and harness the benefits of cloud computing to optimize the in-store experience, market to the individual and maximize every sale," Ganapathy wrote. "If they don't, they risk falling behind their competition."
The cloud can help
The cloud also improves the mobile point of sale experience, processing payments instantly and turning each customer into a data point that can be analyzed to improve consumer relations going forward. And furthermore, the additional computing power will help with spikes in demand – stores' networks are maxed out on days like Black Friday and Christmas Eve, but a powerful cloud system can help manage shoppers' demands.
Cloud computing has helped nearly every corner of the world's economy already. Retail is one area lagging behind, but that may not continue for long.
May 13th, 2013
Among men and women in the United States military who return home from combat and find themselves having difficulties with returning to the workforce, there's a growing sentiment that IT jobs may hold the answer. Washington is working hard to set veterans up with employment that will fit their needs.
According to The Hill, First Lady Michelle Obama recently announced a partnership between IT companies and the military that will help veterans land jobs in the tech sector. About 161,000 service members would become certified for 12 different tech professions that are currently in high demand. Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, called the partnership "a triple win" – service members get much-needed jobs, businesses fill important positions and the economy as a whole improves.
Given the heavy volume of manpower that the U.S. has invested in its recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there is a staggering number of veterans currently returning from home and looking for work. The Hill estimates 1 million veterans will flood the job market in the next year. Many of those veterans experience trouble reentering the workforce for a variety of reasons, including red tape, outdated certifications or a lack of relevant training or experience. The first lady noted that helping these veterans has become "one of the most pressing issues we face," and she's made it one of her signature issues through her Joining Forces program.
Difficulties with training
"Although the majority of IT specialists in the military receive training equivalent to their civilian IT counterparts, few, on their own, seek additional off-duty industry training that can lead towards additional IT certifications above and beyond those required for their military occupation," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. "The IT Training and Certification Partnership can be used to leverage additional training opportunities that can directly contribute towards service members attaining civilian IT-related certifications beyond those that are provided in-service."
IT is a rapidly growing field. By completing training courses and quickly making a contribution to the workforce, veterans can continue making their country a better place after returning home from combat.
May 10th, 2013
Cloud computing services have a place in practically every public and private American enterprise, as cloud-based ERP business solutions have gained traction as a way to organize daily operations in a shareable, streamlined format. Perhaps nowhere is the cloud more needed than in the Department of Energy (DoE), a government branch that has long been clamoring for a better way to safeguard the nation's supply of nuclear weapons.
Luckily, a cloud solution is on the way that should organize and secure America's nukes. According to the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA), the DoE is working to create a cloud computing solution for unclassified data this year. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), an agency within the department, is working on the solution, which will be known as "Yourcloud."
AFCEA revealed that the previous infrastructure for organizing America's nuclear arsenal was scattered across too many data centers, leaving officials unable to refresh equipment as often as necessary. The new cloud system is expected to offer lower costs, more mobility and better cyber-security for important government data.
Travis Howerton, chief technology officer at the NNSA, says that the administration is tailoring a custom cloud solution that will meet the government's specific needs.
"The reason we're doing a custom build is that we could not find anything in the commercial marketplace that could meet our security standards, being that we're the nuclear weapons wing of the federal government," Howerton told the news source. "We think we've pushed the boundaries of what's possible in cloud security, combining that with network security and storage security in an innovative way. We've solved some foundational problems around federated identity management."
Positive effects of cloud implementation
For the most part, large corporations have been the leaders of the cloud computing movement, using the technology to streamline their operations and increase profits. But the cloud can help the federal government as well, and the protection of our nuclear weapons might be its greatest contribution yet.
May 9th, 2013
For companies that move large volumes of their data to the cloud in an effort to bolster their ERP business solutions, a revolution is on the horizon. Cloud computing already offers the corporate world an opportunity to process data and channel it into intelligent business decisions, but the data landscape is beginning to change – according to Cloud Times, the era of big data is ending, and in its place, "smart data" is taking over.
Erik Greuter, a marketing expert at document security software firm DocTrackr, expounded upon this evolution of data. The sheer volume of information to be found online today has become overwhelming. Every single minute, the world produces 204 million new email messages, 100,000 new tweets and 48 hours of new video. It's impossible for any corporation, no matter how much computing power it has, to process everything. For companies that try to do too much, the side-effects can be drastic – in a rush to utilize as much information as possible, analysts can err by finding misleading and meaningless connections between data points, making poor decisions about their companies' futures.
In the future, corporations can improve their operations by honing in on specific data points that directly impact them.
"Smart data is created by algorithms that can cut down data to its most important points, grading information's usefulness by its age for example," Greuter writes. "Even without employing these algorithms, companies big and small can measure an increasingly large number of variables that actually matter to their businesses. The increase in analytics tied to website interactions, customer behavior, and even data and documents is greatly increasing business productivity."
How can companies apply smart data?
Furthermore, companies can use data to segment their customer bases and provide each subset of their clientele with products and services that are specifically tailored to them. Analytics can improve corporate decision-making about product marketing and customer service.
Ultimately, cloud computing and ERP will help companies shape their futures. Collecting big data is one thing, but collecting the right data and making shrewd decisions is more important.
May 8th, 2013
The job market in the United States has been slowly on the mend for the last four years, but for young people looking to find employment in the tech sector, startup companies might be the answer. The landscape for IT jobs is very competitive, but by getting into a business on the ground floor, budding professionals can find influential positions for themselves at the starts of their careers.
According to Fox Business, the vast majority of tech startups are seeing rapid growth. The news source cited a recent survey from Silicon Valley Bank finding that 87 percent of such companies plan to increase their head counts in 2013, and most of the employment opportunities are seen in software companies.
"Generally, the tech sector is performing well, so some of this is driven by the fact that these companies are in a broader segment that is hiring," Silicon Valley Bank Vice President of Public Policy Mary Dent told the news source. "Startups are also unique. By virtue of their stage in development, startups' ability to succeed depends on their ability to grow. They are just starting out, so they need a little bit of everything."
There are many pros and cons for workers who are considering getting on board with a startup.
"The biggest con to working in a startup is the uncertainty," startup blogger Kathy Ver Eecke said. "You don't know if the company will make it. You don't know if the company will make payroll from week to week. You don't know if you'll have a job tomorrow."
For those looking to find prosperous IT jobs, a startup position might be a shrewd career move. But young professionals should proceed with caution, lest they find themselves in jobs that lack long-term security.
May 8th, 2013
While the numbers on migration to Windows 8 haven't been stellar so far, there's hope that with the release of more advanced mobile devices, more users will come to appreciate the convenience offered by Microsoft's newest OS.
Business Insider recently reported on one such device – Amazon.com briefly leaked a web page marketing a new Windows 8 tablet made by Acer. The tablet will be priced at $380 and run the full version of Windows 8, according to the Amazon listing, which means it will accept Windows 7 apps as well.
While there's little yet in the way of concrete evidence that the Windows 8 tablet market is booming, a trend may well be on the horizon. If the Acer tablet is released soon and others follow suit, consumers may flock to the new OS and the convenient handheld devices that accommodate it.
"[The Acer tablet is] the first glimpse we have at what should be a whole slew of smaller and cheaper Windows 8 tablets launching in the second half of the year," industry expert Steve Kovach writes. "Lately, consumers have been gravitating toward such devices, as evidenced by the surge in iPad sales since Apple released the iPad Mini."
Will new devices bolster sales?
Microsoft has tried to nudge users toward operating system upgrades by cutting off customer service for old OS's, starting with XP in April 2014. Between the service transition and the growth of new mobile devices, the corporation is hoping to encourage more OS migration soon.
ZDNet speculated that Windows 8 might become known as "New Coke" – a new product from a major corporation that didn't sell as expected. Microsoft is doing everything it can to fight that perception, though, and the sale of new, convenient mobile computing devices may prove to be a step in the right direction.
May 6th, 2013
A long-standing assumption about the technology industry is that professionals enter the field primarily for its financial benefits – for those who put in long hours training and accrue hefty debts putting themselves through school, there's an expectation that the investment will pay off manyfold in the end. According to new research, however, it is not all about the money. The Telegraph reported data from tech recruiting firm Silicon Milkroundabout finding that almost 75 percent of workers in IT jobs care more about their day-to-day happiness than the sizes of their paychecks.
On a related note, respondents also expressed willingness to work for startup companies rather than established tech firms, despite the fact that existing companies are often more apt to offer stable incomes. Two-thirds of those polled said they could be "easily persuaded" to work for startups, and one-fourth said they were "only considering" such a move.
Silicon Milkroundabout's research reveals several factors that matter more to the typical tech worker than money. Here are three.
Being around like-minded professionals
Having a stake in their companies
Making a difference in the tech world
"The pay might not be as good, but the excitement of startup life and the chance to make an immediate difference are enticing more and more bright minds into the startup world," Hunter said.
Because they have greater control, both financially and in terms of corporate vision, workers are often happier in firms that don't offer them big paychecks. Money is important, but workers in IT jobs are after a whole lot more.
May 6th, 2013
Of the numerous ways that cloud computing helps empower businesses worldwide, customer relationship management (CRM) is rapidly emerging as the most notable. Cloud use makes a wide variety of tasks easier and more efficient, but it's especially valuable in customer relations, an area where firms invest a great deal of time and money into gathering data and sharing it to make analytical business decisions.
According to Gartner, total worldwide revenue from CRM software totaled $18 billion in 2012, an increase of 12.5 percent from $16 billion in 2011. There are now numerous vendors of CRM products on the market competing for business. The top five software manufacturers, led by Salesforce.com at just over $2.5 billion, made up nearly 50 percent of the revenue, but there were plenty of other vendors hawking CRM products in 2012. The market for CRM has become as deep as it is lucrative.
Joanne Correia, vice president at Gartner, noted that corporations are more willing than they used to be to spend money on technological initiatives like cloud CRM.
"With corporate cash at all-time highs, many vendors are willing to pay high premiums to acquire specific technologies and expertise in an increasingly dynamic and competitive CRM market environment," Correia said. "Competition among CRM software vendors really heated up in 2012, as major players continued to vie for broader market penetration internationally and more widespread adoption within midsize to large enterprises."
Benefits of cloud CRM
"Play around with them for a while to find out what you like and don't like," technology consultant James Gaskin told the news source. "Then when you're ready, you can start adding more users and data to the system or switch to another one, if the free tool doesn't meet your needs."
The other major benefit of cloud CRM is it's social – PC World estimates that about 80 percent of American adults are plugged into social networking sites, and cloud CRM works as a way of gathering information from consumers and putting it to use quickly.
While cloud computing can help nearly every aspect of companies' day-to-day operations, it's never been more influential than it is today in customer service.
May 2nd, 2013
Across a broad range of different industries, one major IT difficulty persists – data storage is a difficult undertaking. Companies all have massive amounts of data saved on various networks, and managing it all is a massive challenge, requiring a great deal of hardware, software, funding and technical support. Even in today's business climate, where cloud computing is making waves, companies are still struggling to manage all those files they're saving day in and day out.
According to the third annual State of Virtualization Survey released by DataCore Software, many companies are still struggling with the costs and performance issues associated with data storage. Of the 477 IT professionals the firm surveyed, 44 percent said that disproportionate storage costs prevented them from virtualizing more of their workloads, and 42 percent noted performance degradation or inability to meet performance expectations.
Often, corporate IT departments are kept on very tight budgets – 51 percent of respondents said their storage budgets remains stable in 2013 compared to 2012, and 20 percent say their funding has gone down. The portion of IT officials with rising virtualization budgets dropped from 38 percent in 2012 to 30 percent now. Storage makes up a significant portion of the cost of virtualization, as DataCore CEO George Teixeira notes.
"The findings make it clear – storage is the 'big' problem IT pros must solve today," Teixeira said. "The value and need to virtualize critical applications is now well recognized, but soaring storage costs and unpredictable performance workloads associated with virtualization and consolidation projects continue to impede their progress."
Why not try the cloud?
The news source explains that while the cloud is powerful, it also comes with liability issues related to outages and data loss. By getting involved with the cloud, CFOs can control how the cloud affects their bottom lines. If adopted responsibly, the cloud can help not only with storage, but also with communication, collaboration and project management, among other areas.
According to DataCore's findings, 80 percent of IT officials are still reluctant about adopting cloud solutions for data storage. In the future, companies should work to combat this reticence.
May 1st, 2013
Cloud computing has brought about enormous growth in the productivity and mobility of corporations worldwide. But one alarming question still lingers for businesses that have adopted cloud solutions – has moving to the cloud made corporate data more vulnerable to cyber-attacks?
Erik Grueter, a marketer for document security software firm DocTrackr, recently wrote a Cloud Times guest piece in which he speculated that increased cloud use might make companies weaker against security threats that may target them.
"The truth is the exciting speed and scalability of the cloud does not only put power into the hands of the good guys," Grueter wrote. "Gone are the days when a hacker had to wait days or weeks to infect a critical mass of computers before launching a big attack. Distributed Denial Of Service (DDoS) attacks would employ thousands, even millions of computers infected with a virus."
There are many, many ways in which cyber-criminals may attempt to target companies that employ cloud solutions. Here is a look at a few.
Denial of service
Lack of foresight
According to Business Cloud 9, 61 percent of organizations have detected significant attempts at attacks on their networks in the past year. That's an alarming figure, and it's proof that companies must proceed with the utmost caution regarding their cloud use. The cloud is immensely powerful, but it must be managed with care.
May 1st, 2013
Cloud computing has already proven its worth in the corporate world for a variety of different purposes – human resources, public relations and enterprise resource planning (ERP), to name a few. But perhaps the greatest use for cloud applications is in customer service, where consumers have rapidly begun to note the importance of advanced technological innovations.
The era of customers simply picking up the phone and dialing to contact companies with their concerns is long gone – consumers are looking ways to contact corporate America more quickly and efficiently, often using social media, and sometimes with mobile devices rather than traditional personal computers. In a competitive business world, companies need technological solutions to make the customer service process more efficient. By saving time and money, they can get a leg up on their rivals in their respective fields.
Paul Jarman, CEO of inContact, recently wrote an op-ed for Wired magazine in which he described the need for cloud solutions in today's CRM world.
"The service industry is exploding with technology," Jarman wrote. "Businesses are left to decipher which tools and information they can and should leverage to best serve their business goals and the needs of their customers. Between mobile capabilities, social channels, massive amounts of available customer data, and the growing need for more sophisticated self-service, how can companies use technology like the cloud to be successful with the tools they deploy and in delivering a personalized multichannel customer service?"
There are a number of ways the cloud can help. Companies can use it to store data obtained through social media, for instance, or if they're particularly tech-savvy, they can organize video conferencing with customers to discuss their service concerns.
There's no denying the impact of the cloud movement. Gartner survey data recently reported by the Manila Standard revealed that the cloud and CRM are likely to drive software budgets in 2013 and 2014, with 69 percent of companies saying they plan to pour more funding into software purchases. Those who don't spend more are likely to be left behind.
Jarman notes that according to Harris Interactive data, 68 percent of Americans think companies with only an 800 phone number for customer service have become outdated, and 86 percent expect to see multiple service options. Specifically, 70 percent are asking for mobile apps.
These figures cannot be ignored. The public demands cloud-based customer service in 2013, and companies who fail to deliver are going to lose ground.
May 1st, 2013
Cloud computing is making our lives more efficient every day, both at home and at work, and several U.S. states are looking to encourage more cloud use from their citizens and businesses. By offering tax breaks to companies who spend money on cloud technology, state governments can do their part to encourage technological advancement.
Idaho is one recent example, according to the Wall Street Journal. Several companies in that state became the subject of audits because of a Idaho State Tax Commission decision subjecting subscription software delivered online to state sales tax. But now, the state is eager to change the tax status quo – House Bill 243 would define cloud software as a service, not a tangible product that's subject to sales tax, according to Boise Weekly.
"This is one of those moments where Idaho can send a positive message to its existing software companies," said Jeff Sayer, director of the Idaho Department of Commerce. "And we can send a message to the rest of the world that Idaho is friendly to new software employers."
Vermont is pursuing similar measures under governor Peter Shumlin. Last year, according to VT Digger, the Shumlin administration backed a retroactive moratorium on taxing cloud computing, reimbursing businesses for about $2 million in taxes that they'd already paid. Now, Shumlin wants to make that tax exemption permanent.
There are plenty more states like Utah and Vermont, the Wall Street Journal revealed. In Kansas, Nebraska, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin, tax officials have decided that cloud services should be exempt from taxation.
Nearly every business is considering cloud computing on its own merit. But a little financial incentive couldn't hurt, so several U.S. states are doing what they can to encourage technological innovation.
May 1st, 2013
Cloud computing is already making businesses more efficient by improving their data storage capabilities. But now companies are realizing the importance of cloud-based email services. According to a newly released survey from Critical Path, more than 50 percent of IT directors surveyed in the United States, United Kingdom and Japan are considering public or private cloud use in their next deployment of email services.
There are a number of advantages to adopting cloud email in the workplace. According to the CP survey, IT officials have already picked up on a number of them – 68 percent said message archiving was a priority in their email services, while 63 percent named disaster recovery support and 56 percent mentioned data loss prevention. All of the above are areas where the cloud can help.
"We know customers demand choice in how they deploy messaging solutions," said Michael Chernoff, CP's vice president of marketing. "Even with adoption rates varying across the world, it's clear that cloud is becoming an increasingly important part of the mix. CP offers public and private cloud messaging for enterprises along with our existing appliance and software solutions."
Cloud-based email is already a big hit with individual users. Google's Gmail, for example, is able to store and archive vast quantities of data, essentially offering free cloud capability for users across the world – and according to Venture Beat, Gmail overtook Hotmail in 2012 as the most popular email service in the world, with 425 million monthly unique accounts.
There are a number of potential drawbacks to cloud email, according to TechTarget – because many employees tend to forward messages back and forth between their business and personal email accounts, there's often a risk of malware infection. Inbox and attachment restrictions may be necessary in order to sufficiently safeguard business data.
There's also concern that conventional email as we know it is dying – as social media sites begin to control the way we operate online, the traditional inbox is becoming obsolete. But that would be oversimplifying the matter – in the future, rather, email and social media platforms will be integrated so that workers can interact and share files more efficiently.
Business communications are rapidly changing, and cloud computing is at the forefront of that movement. Our inboxes will never be the same.
May 1st, 2013
Banks are always on the lookout to hire capable professionals who can be assets to their everyday operations, but lately the industry has had trouble with attracting and keeping top talent. While the demand for quality personnel has remained high, the supply of labor is dwindling, making for a very competitive climate in financial staffing.
The problem for financial institutions is twofold. Not only are banks struggling to find talent, but they also live in constant fear that their top professionals may leave. A Robert Half survey recently revealed specific data on each of these concerns – of the 1,100 financial executives polled across seven countries, 89 percent said they had trouble with recruiting, and 83 percent said they feared losing their best performers.
Neil Owen, global practice director of financial services recruitment for Robert Half, explained that these staffing troubles apply to all levels within the industry, not just top management positions.
"While some areas within financial services institutions have seen cutbacks, other more profitable product lines are receiving further investment, which has resulted in additional hiring," Owen said. "This is creating challenges in finding the requisite staff to capitalize on emerging opportunities. Competition for the industry's top talent continues to intensify for middle-office and support roles, particularly accounting and finance, as well as operations positions."
A period of decline
The AP now reports that the sector has returned to a period of decline. A group of major American banks – Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley – combined to cut 31,000 jobs, or 3.5 percent of their combined workforce, in one year. Workers are beginning to look to other sectors besides banking to find gainful employment.
The financial industry is struggling through a difficult period, and it must do more to meet the challenge of attracting and retaining talent. The business climate is competitive, and banks must work hard to get ahead.
April 30th, 2013
While cloud computing is already emerged as one of the biggest developments in the business world in recent years, the cloud is still far from a finished product – there are many developments expected down the road that should help cloud technologies evolve and become an even more powerful force in offices worldwide. One such development, according to Cloud Times, is that public cloud solutions are expected to outpace private, internal ones.
Currently it's common for corporations, especially larger ones, to build large private cloud infrastructures for storing data. Private clouds have several benefits – they're secure, they're customizable and their construction spurs job creation within companies. For years, private cloud products have had a place in industry. But over time, we're likely to see that trend reversed. Here are a few reasons why.
Mass-produced cloud products are cheaper
The public cloud is well-staffed
The security gap is closing
While there will always be skeptics about the long-term viability of public cloud systems, the technology is always improving, and every day it earns more converts. Eventually, the public cloud will be the last one standing.
April 29th, 2013
For those looking to secure prosperous IT jobs, there's one sector in particular with plenty of openings, and many are surprisingly going unfilled. The cyber-security industry, an important one at a time when countless organizations are being attacked by hackers worldwide, is currently understaffed. More cyber-warriors are needed to keep the world's data safe from intrusion, but the field is still struggling to attract young people interested in joining the industry, especially women.
TechWorld recently reported on this troubling trend, citing survey data compiled by E-Skills in partnership with Alderbridge Consulting. The study found that only 7 percent of IT professionals are aged between 20 and 29, compared to 31 percent between 30 and 39 and 21 percent from 40 to 49. The lack of female talent was also a glaring problem – only 10 percent of those in non-commercial IT positions are women..
Nigel Payne, project director at E-Skills, hopes that the industry will work to reverse this trend soon by bringing in more young talent.
"This research offers real insight into training and qualification issues in the cyber-security industry," Payne said. "Attracting new talent, of both sexes, into the sector is critical, and we need to make sure that new entrants can easily identify and follow a worthwhile career path. The easier it is for them to find the training and qualifications they need, the faster they will become successful and productive assets to their employers."
Follow the money
Cybersecurity professionals also said that on the whole, they were very happy with their jobs. Among the employees polled, 63 percent said they were satisfied in their current positions. Additionally, the jobs are secure – 89 percent said they feel secure in their current jobs, which is a slight drop from 2012 but still an impressively high level.
There are plenty of IT jobs out there, but perhaps none are more gettable or lucrative than those in the security field. Employment-seekers should take note.
April 26th, 2013
As technological advances such as cloud computing and mobile solutions continue to add complexity to business operations, workers with IT jobs have taken on an increased role in shaping their companies' futures. But according to recent research, there's a noticeable disconnect between the average company and its tech department, both ideologically and in terms of budgeting.
A new study from Kovarus revealed that only 28% of businesses' IT decision-makers properly prioritize their spending for their companies' overall needs. The other 72 percent favored a more traditional approach to spending, allocating funds toward fixing issues currently at hand and directly reducing expenses. In other words, the focus for most is less on long-term innovation and more on quick fixes.
Andy Lewis, chief information officer of Kovarus, says IT officials must pay close attention to the needs of their companies.
"Our research shows a clear divide between the needs of the business and the business' perceived capability of the IT department to satisfy those needs," Lewis said. "The business units are making somewhat independent decisions to source their IT services without a true understanding of the true value that their IT departments have to offer."
IT World recently outlined a few ways in which corporate IT departments lose their focus.
Overall, the biggest adjustment that IT officials must make is learning to look at the big picture regarding the futures of their companies. According to Kovarus' research, only 18 percent of tech personnel "took a holistic view" on their IT spending. If tech companies are to be best served going forward, that figure must change. Business and IT should work together in concert, not against one another.
April 25th, 2013
Cloud computing has become nearly omnipresent in American businesses – IT managers have steered away from traditional software solutions for running their operations and moved toward storing their data online, using channels that are easily accessible to remote workers and mobile users in addition to in-house employees.
For companies themselves, the cloud is a godsend, as it's brought about marked improvements in productivity and profit. For the cloud vendors, the growing trend has been a tremendous boon financially – their sales have soared as their products grow in popularity. But there's one faction being left behind by the cloud boom that's come about in recent years – the old guard of computing. As the cloud has risen, makers of traditional hardware and software have been rendered obsolete. For some, that's been devastating to business.
Baird Equity Research Technology recently published a report referring to cloud expansion as the driving force behind "a shrinking IT spending pie." The problem, the firm explained, is that not all IT projects are created equal, fiscally speaking – completing an IT initiative might have cost a certain amount using conventional software solutions in the past, but it costs far less now using the cloud. The changing tech landscape is not zero-sum game – the industry at large is losing revenue.
"We estimate that for every dollar spent on [Amazon Web Services], there is at least $3 to $4 not spent on traditional IT," the Baird report said, according to InfoWorld. "This ratio will likely expand further. In other words, AWS reaching $10 billion in revenues by 2016 translates into at least $30 to $40 billion lost from the traditional IT market."
IT terminology is being redefined
Previously, it was a long, multi-step process for users to determine whether a software application was the right fit for them. People would need to find applications either in stores or with private vendors, determine if they met system requirements, purchase them, install them, license them and sometimes even configure hardware to go with them.
That whole process has changed. The cloud is taking over, and the old methods of adopting software solutions may never be seen again.
April 24th, 2013
There's a vast supply of IT jobs out there for the taking, but there's a large subset of the population still struggling to take them – women. While the last few decades have seen a large-scale closing of the gender gap in the economy at large with more women finding jobs and making comparable salaries than ever before, that gap is still visible in the tech sector, and reversing that trend has been a long, arduous process.
The Christian Science Monitor recently uncovered some data on the IT gender gap. Citing a 2011 Department of Commerce report, the newspaper showed that women made up about 50 percent of the United States' overall workforce but held less than 25 percent of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs. The paper furthermore noted that computing jobs are growing at double the national average, and by 2018, the industry will only be able to fill half of its open positions.
Clearly, a greater effort is necessary to reach out to women and get them involved in the tech profession. But Reshma Saujani, a prominent female programmer, argues that one problem is interest. Women don't think the field is for them.
"When girls think about computer science, they think about a guy in front of a computer typing," Saujani told The Christian Science Monitor.
Having said that, there are a few areas where women are making modest gains. Here are three.
"I realized that we needed to do something about it," Saujani said. "We needed to start young, focusing on teenage girls, before they've figured out what they want to do with their lives."
April 23rd, 2013
Mobile solutions have become a mainstay in the American workplace, but with the added convenience of mobile device use comes increased responsibility. Officials in the IT industry must now make a concerted effort to train their officials to use mobile devices properly.
The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) recently released an infographic highlighting the widespread presence of mobile devices and the need for proper training practices. The IAAP surveyed large organizations around the world and found that 40 percent of the global workplace is now using mobile technology, and that trend is even more prevalent in larger corporations. About 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies have enacted Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, survey data shows.
With all of this mobile use, the need for training grows exponentially. Mobile education is one area where the industry still must improve.
"An increasing number of office professionals around the world are working virtually, using mobile devices and cloud apps," the IAAP's report said. "But training hasn't necessarily kept up."
Here are a few key areas where IT employees must be properly educated.
Mobile solutions add productivity to millions of offices worldwide, but training is essential to making sure employees use devices responsibly.
April 23rd, 2013
Those who continue procrastinating with regard to Windows 8 migration may soon find themselves with some unforeseen financial difficulties on their hands. According to TechRepublic, sticking with an outdated operating system such as Windows XP is a calculated risk – it's certainly cheaper and easier, but the downside is that security breaches and crashing applications may be in those users' futures.
Microsoft has already announced a deadline of April 8, 2014 for providing support to XP users, in the hopes that clients, especially large corporations, will make an effort to transition over to Windows 8 before that date. But survey data recently compiled by software consulting firm Camwood indicates otherwise – about 20 percent of companies currently using XP plan to stick with the operating system past 2014, the firm found.
Some companies have mistakenly come to believe that because of Windows XP's longevity and ubiquity in the American workplace, the operating system is secure long-term, and all major vulnerabilities have already been dealt with. But Rik Ferguson, global vice president of security research at Trend Micro, told TechRepublic that the opposite is true. New vulnerabilities are always being discovered, and users will be far less secure once they're without the tech support resources currently at their disposal.
"It's a racing certainty that significant new vulnerabilities with XP will be uncovered in the future, if anyone wants to devote their time to it," Ferguson said. "You'd be a fool to say every possible vulnerability has already been discovered and either mitigated or patched. It should theoretically get progressively more difficult to uncover bugs in a system as widespread as XP. All that field-testing, all that field QA, are going to be far more extensive than anything you could have hoped to achieve in a QA lab pre-release."
Despite the looming security risks, Windows XP remains the second most popular operating system in the world, according to ZDNet. Windows 7 checked in at the No. 1 spot at the end of March, controlling 44.73 percent of the market, and Windows XP was right behind at 38.73 percent. Despite having six months to drum up support, Microsoft has still done little to fuel sales of Windows 8, which still represents just 3.17 percent of the OS market.
If more attention is paid to the security risks in the near future, users may drift away from the outdated Windows XP and onto the new and improved Windows 8. But if the last few months are any indication, it might be a slow process.
April 23rd, 2013
Employment is relatively strong nationwide, and those with credentials in the technology sector are finding jobs with ease, for the most part. But there's still one troubling issue that needs to be resolved in the IT jobs world in the months ahead – health care firms in the United States are having trouble filling positions with IT officials, according to recent research.
Towers Watson surveyed over 100 healthcare providers and found that 67 percent are having problems attracting experienced IT employees. Even among those who have found solid professionals, keeping them is another issue – 38 percent of firms expressed having problems with retention.
Heidi Toppel, a senior rewards consultant in Towers Watson's hospital industry group, identified a number of troubles currently facing the healthcare industry, with the attraction and retention of tech professionals chief among them.
"Hospitals have an urgent need for experienced, highly skilled IT professionals to ensure they can meet new government requirements and qualify for financial incentives," Toppel said. "In addition, the ability to share patient care information and records accurately and seamlessly with a range of other providers will be essential to achieving patient satisfaction and quality-of-care outcomes in a more integrated approach to health care delivery."
More talent needed
An editorial in the Spokane Spokesman-Review presents one idea on how to tackle the issue in the long-term – Washington can fill tech jobs faster by investing more money in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Some institutions of higher learning are even turning away students interested in tech degrees because the schools lack the classrooms or teachers required to support them. With more attention and more funding, the government can rectify this issue.
Towers Watson's survey found that 55 percent of healthcare firms polled are taking at least three different measures to address their IT job issues. Among their strategies are pay raises, retention bonuses and additional education and training. But the support can't come from the firms alone. If America is to address its IT jobs gap, the effort must come from the education system, bringing more talent to an industry that desperately needs it.
April 23rd, 2013
Cloud computing has brought tremendous gains in productivity and flexibility to the IT industry, but there are many questions still to be answered about its future. While corporations reap the benefits of increased cloud use, lawmakers continue to debate how best to regulate the cloud and keep it from being abused.
This is true worldwide – legislatures across North America, Europe and Asia are debating how to keep cloud data safe and regulate its use fairly. Jim Reavis, co-founder of the Cloud Security Alliance, recently wrote an op-ed for The Guardian in which he objected to some measures being discussed.
"While much of this is well meaning and quite good, the great challenge is in understanding the international interdependencies that have emerged within this global compute utility, and defining strategies and policies that balance the interests of individuals, business and law enforcement," Reavis wrote. "Compounding this challenge is a great acceleration in innovation, which in effect is asking us to govern an entity that is highly dynamic."
There are many issues being discussed worldwide regarding cloud data. Here's a glimpse at the debate topics on the table.
"IT managers do not want governments snooping around in their corporate data," Lieberman Software CEO Philip Lieberman told the magazine.
The cloud has brought convenience to users' lives worldwide, but it has also brought questions about how to manage it. Governments around the world have several dilemmas on their hands.
April 23rd, 2013
DISYS releases an SAP BI Accelerator tool providing faster analysis and organization of data
Mclean, VA – April 23th – Digital Intelligence Systems, LLC (DISYS), a leading global IT solutions firm, has announced the launch of REV, their newly developed BI Accelerator tool made for SAP. REV joins DISYS’ recently released cloud enablement tool, Sirro, as the latest innovation from DISYS’ research and development arm, DISYS Labs.
REV efficiently analyzes the inventory of data to detect redundant and obsolete objects in the SAP Business Intelligence landscape. By leveraging this accelerator tool, a higher degree of quality and data integrity can be achieved when upgrading and consolidating objects. REV provides DISYS client’s faster access to relevant information, increasing the overall SAP BI system performance and enabling clients to make informed strategic decisions. DISYS BI consultants will utilize this accelerator tool to better harmonize data across multiple platforms, streamlining processes for the customer.
Ahmar Abbas, DISYS’ Vice President of Global Services, commented on REV “As we continue to innovate our services and expand DISYS Labs, REV provides our clients with a unique offering as it is a customized program built to maintain SAP BI applications that can automate processes required to manage the BI landscape. Our clients will benefit from optimized knowledge transition during BI support take over and identify new insight for future projects.”
Shanthi Mani, DISYS SAP Practice Manager stated, “REV allows the BI Application Support team to significantly save time on manual analysis. DISYS will be able to administer this tool for our SAP BI customers who have implemented SAP BI systems over the years and achieve the benefits of accelerated technical analysis.”
DISYS REV has been made available to DISYS clients and the public as of its release on April 23th. For more information, visit www.disys.com/about-us/rev/ or contact your DISYS Sales Representative.
View the REV demo below.